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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

The Latin Legacy                   347
cession of extrinsic circumstances From the Treaty of Westphalia
(1648) till the collapse of Napoleon, France was usually in a position
to dictate the terms of her treaties on the continent Before the period of
enlightenment which preceded the Revolution the Court of Versailles
was the cultural citadel of Absolutism The Encyclopaedists were the
commercial travellers of English rationalism and the revolutionary
wars emblazoned the fame of French culture in a new stratum of
European society The Empire reinforced its prestige., but provoked
a nationalistic reaction throughout Europe. After the defeat of Bona-
parte its influence receded in Scandinavian countries, among the
Russian aristocracy in Russia, where official foreign correspondence
was conducted in French nil about 1840., and in Egypt under the
impact of British imperialism Though it still has ostentation-value
as a female embellishment in well-to-do circles^ unfamilianty with
French no longer stamps a person as an ignoramus among educated
people Neither Lloyd George nor Wilson could converse with the
Tiger in his own tongue. That they could discuss the spoils without
resource to an interpreter was because Clemenceau had lived in the
United States
ITALIAN AND RUMANIAN
The three Latin dialects discussed in the last few pages have trans-
gressed the boundanes of sovereign states Italian and Rumanian are
essentially national, and other Latin descendants,, eg Romansch in
Switzerland are local splinters, on all fours with Welsh or Scots Gaelic
Phonetically Itahan has kept closer to Latin than Spanish or French,
and its vocabulary has assimilated fewer loan-words The oldest avail-
able specimens of Itahan (A D 960 and 964) occur in Latin documents
as formulae repeated by witnesses in connexion with the specification of
boundanes. Wntten records are sparse till the thirteenth century. By
then Italy again had a literature of its own. The dominant dialect was
that of Florence, which owed its prestige less to the poems of Dante,
Petraxch, and Boccaccio than to a flourishing textile industry and
wealthy banking houses It has changed remarkably little since Dante's
time In 1926 there were 41 million Italians in the Peninsula, in Sialy3
and in Sardinia Less than a quarter of a million account for Itahan
minorities either in Switzerland or in Corsica
Rumania corresponds roughly to the Roman province Daaa under
the Emperor Trajan. From one point of view its official language is the
English or Persian (p 410) of the Latin family Strange-looking words